Racing: Forgiveness can prove Wonderful

York Ebor meeting: Four-year-old filly expected to bounce back to form in Juddmonte International on opening day
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The Independent Online
RARE INDEED is the day at the races which manages to be all things to all punters, but the opening afternoon of the Ebor meeting at York does so with a flourish. Some of the fields may appear a little sparse, but there will be proven Group One performers and potential Classic winners both in this season and next, not to mention a horde of tough handicappers competing on the Knavesmire today. The backer who cannot find something worth supporting is not worthy of the name.

And just to make things really interesting, it can be argued that the International Stakes, the Group One feature race of the first day, requires every bit as much careful analysis as the 23-runner sprint handicap later in the afternoon. Singspiel, Halling and Rodrigo De Triano are among the recent winners of this race, and while there may not, at first sight at least, be anything of similar calibre in today's field, it is hard to rule out any of the eight runners with confidence.

Three of them, after all, are Group One winners already, while three more have finished second at the highest level this season. Yet only Faithful Son, who seems sure to start favourite, has form which qualifies as rock- solid, and he was found wanting in a Group One when second to Daylami, his stablemate, in the Eclipse at Sandown last month. Respectable performance though that was, it does not demand support at around 9-4.

The same is true of Chester House, the second-favourite, whose position in the market owes more to Henry Cecil's long-professed regard than to any history of glory in the best company. He may finally have matured into the horse his trainer believes him to be, but it is a huge risk to take at the odds. Nor does it seem wise to trust the stamina of Exclusive, who won a relatively weak Coronation Stakes at Ascot, while the opposition to Limpid was also disappointing when he won the Grand Prix de Paris.

Instead, it may be a spirit of forgiveness which pays dividends. One So Wonderful (next best 3.10) has but one black mark on her record, when she was a disappointing favourite for the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown early in the season. Remove that from calculations and she has an outstanding chance today. Reams Of Verse, the Oaks winner, was beaten when One So Wonderful won the Sun Chariot Stakes on just her third career start last season.

Ante-post betting on the St Leger, the last British Classic, should begin in earnest after the Great Voltigeur Stakes, which brings together several young stayers who could be of the highest class. The pace should be good with both Rabah and Prolix in the field, and while the former proved in the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood that he is very difficult to pass, the race could be set up for THE GLOW-WORM (nap 3.45). He is a fresh horse, unraced since finishing sixth in the Derby, and looks an even better bet now that Barry Hills's horses are in form.

Cadeaux Cher, a winner for Hills on Saturday, runs in the Eagle Lane Handicap, but Venture Capitalist (4.45) is a better bet, while Canon Can (2.35) and Wallace (2.05) look good for the first two races on the card.